Getting to Know Your Teeth

You spend a considerable amount of time brushing, flossing, and cleaning your teeth. However, what do you really know about your teeth? Can you correctly identify the difference between the incisor and the canine? How about deciphering the differences between a tooth’s pulp and its cementum? Not to worry, this post will help you to identify your teeth and will provide a better understanding of each tooth’s job.

Parts of the Tooth

A tooth consists of two basic parts, the crown and the root. The crown is the visible white part of the tooth. The root extends below the gumline and anchors the tooth to the bone.
Each of your 32 teeth has four unique components. Enamel is what you see when you smile. Enamel consists of calcium and phosphorous, and is twice as hard as bone. Enamel provides a layer of protection against tooth decay, the number one cause of tooth loss.
Just below the enamel is dentin. Dentin is calcified and is similar to bone, but isn’t as strong as enamel, which makes it more susceptible to decay.
Cementum protects the root of your teeth and is much softer than enamel and dentin. Cementum is a light yellow color and is usually covered by the gums.
Lastly, there is the pulp. Found at the center of your tooth, the pulp houses blood vessels, nerves, and other soft tissues that deliver nutrients to your teeth.

Types of Teeth

Just like people, each type of tooth has a different shape and performs a different job. The most visible of your teeth are the incisors. With four on the top row and four on the bottom row of your jaw, these are the teeth you use to take a bite out of food.
The canines are your sharpest teeth and their job is to rip and tear food apart. Premolars, which are also referred to as “bicuspids,” are used for chewing and grinding food.
Next, you have the molars. Molars, like premolars, are used to chew and grind food. The third molars are commonly referred to as “wisdom teeth.” Some people never develop third molars. For those that do, crowding is a common issue with the eruption of third molars. Third molars are difficult to keep clean, making cavities quite likely.

To Learn More About Your Teeth, Talk to a Professional

Dr. Jeffrey Allen provides comfortable dental care to patients of all ages. Call (641) 628-1121 today to schedule a checkup and cleaning, cosmetic consultation, or second-opinion visit. We are located on the west side of the historic town square in Pella, IA. Please see the map for directions.